Sky-High Biscuits and Strawberry Nut Shortcakes

I've never made biscuits successfully. The ones I used for this strawberry shortcake recipe in the spring were pretty great, but, technically, they were shortcakes, not biscuits. I don't know if I can legitimately say that I have now made biscuits successfully, because although these were really good, any experienced biscuit-maker would tell you that they aren't, technically, biscuits. Strictly speaking, according to my Southern grandmother (not Eleanor) and also every Southern cook I've ever met, a biscuit has only four ingredients (flour, baking powder, butter, and milk, I think). This particular recipe has way more than that, including two types of flour, egg, sugar, and cream of tartar, which, I'm happy to report, is completely optional, as I couldn't find any (though Judson did try to purchase a bottle of tartar sauce when I asked him to check at the grocery store near his office).

The biscuit recipe is in pristine condition and dated 1983, so I think it's a safe bet Eleanor never made these. Scornful of all things Southern, I was surprised to find this recipe in the box at all-- maybe the whole wheat flour convinced her they would be worth making, or maybe she, like me, just needed a vehicle for her strawberry shortcakes.

Anyway, I've been wanting to make this recipe for strawberry nut shortcake before the summer ended, but I kept finding excuses-- until I found the most perfect and beautiful wee little 'woodland strawberries' at the fruit stand last weekend. They were so round and perfect they looked like wild strawberries, and I knew they'd be perfect for this recipe. But since the shortcake recipe calls for 'biscuit mix,' which doesn't exist over here in the land where biscuits are cookies, I had no choice but to make mine from scratch. Luckily, the box came to my rescue on that front as well. Incidentally, the only other key ingredient for this recipe that I couldn't find was 'whipped topping,' which is ironic because the recipe comes on the back of the lid to a container of Dover Farms Whipped Dairy Topping. Definitely not complaining, though, as homemade whipped cream beats out the stuff in the tub any day of the week, so I ended up with a completely from-scratch dessert that was surprisingly easy to put together. Plus, in Scotland there's a dessert called cranachan that's basically just crumbled cookies, mashed raspberries, and whisky-infused whipped cream... which gave me the idea of adding just a dash of whisky to the whipped cream in this recipe. We did not regret that decision. If you're not a whisky drinker but you have some bourbon on hand, put a capful in your whipped cream-- it will change your life.

If you're dying for one last summertime dessert before the autumn sets in and you live in a place where you can still get decent strawberries, make this. You won't regret it. Bonus points if you make the biscuits from scratch-- plus, you'll have leftover biscuits that go GREAT with clotted cream and jam.

Seriously, though-- these two recipes are super easy. The biscuits come together in no time, and keep for three days at room temperature. The actual strawberry shortcakes are super simple-- sliced strawberries, a dash of sugar, and a cloud of whipped cream and you're good to go. But if you're in a real hurry, you could even skip the biscuits and just have strawberries and cream. No one would mind, I promise.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. These strawberry shortcakes are delicious, and somehow so much more than the sum of their (amazing) parts. Make these quick and enjoy the Indian Summer we seem to all be experiencing.

The recipe:

Sky-High Biscuits

the directions:

Preheat oven to 232C/450F.
Combine flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Work quickly to avoid mixture getting soft.
Add egg and milk, stirring quickly just until mixture comes together.
Flour your countertop and knead very gently and quickly.
Pat gently to 1” thickness.
Cut into 1-2” biscuits and place on a cookie sheet about 1” apart.
Bake 12-15 minutes until crisp and golden.

Yields 10 biscuits

the ingredients:

1 c flour
½ c whole wheat flour
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
3 oz butter
½ egg, beaten
½ c milk


the recipe:

Strawberry Nut Shortcake

the directions:

Sprinkle strawberries with sugar and set aside.
Whip cream with vanilla and brown sugar until fluffy.
Split each biscuit, and scoop strawberries on top of the bottom half of the biscuit.
Add whipped cream sprinkle of nuts, and the top of the biscuit.
Serve immediately and enjoy immensely.

Yields 4 strawberry shortcakes

the ingredients:

2 c strawberries, sliced
2 tbsp sugar, or less if your strawberries are particularly sweet
1 c whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp brown sugar
4 biscuits (recipe above)
½ c pecans